Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Notts Bound


At last the opportunity arose to get up to Nottingham and return to the mighty River Trent.  It’s been a long time since we cast into the murky depths of this amazing Midlands river. Geoff and I headed to our first of two destinations on a Worksop stretch.  This area is a little narrower and in places, fairly well tree lined.  Last time around and in my absence, Kevin managed to entice a stunning 12lb+ fish from this stretch.  Not bad considering Kevin’s health prevents him from fishing very much.  In fact this was possibly his first trip of the season.

Kevin's 12lb Worksop Barbel

Kevin’s 12lb Worksop Barbel

The level close in is deep, and I mean deep; probably 12 feet just off of the rod top.  The downside is that in places it’s strewn with rocks, so a bit of a tackle graveyard.  There are some clear spots though and it’s nice to be able to fish close in for a change.  On this occasion I wanted to head downstream to an area that I’d looked at before.  Although slightly more open, it just looked fishy!  I was hoping that the level would be more in the region of 6-8 feet and with a gravel bottom.  In fact it pretty much matched what I was hoping for.

Geoff set-up his stool just downstream of me and by now it was probably 5.30pm.  We hoped to fish through till about 1am or so.  During the evening I started to see quite a few fish topping, including some sizeable fish.  Both Geoff and I also started to pick up a few bream, which this area is known for.  I think Geoff weighed his biggest bream in at over 6lbs, not a bad fish.  We both had around 6-8 bream apiece throughout the session.

Luckily the upstream rod hooped over and at last a barbel surged off into the depths.  This felt a decent fish and after a protracted fight I eventually landed what looked like a scraper double.  I was delighted with the scales’ result at 10lb 2oz.  Geoff offered to take a photo and whilst I was resting the fish in the landing net the other rod whacked round and that resulted in a 9lb 2oz barbel.  Not a bad brace really.

Geoff had by now caught a barbel as well and I followed those two up with fish of 8lb 14oz and 9lb 8oz.  Overall I was pretty chuffed with the results in an area I hoped would be productive.  I’m sure we’ll be back here soon.

The next day saw us head to a far more famous stretch of the Trent; Gunthorpe Weir.  We went for a recce first and then lugged the tackle up to the weir itself.  I fished pretty much opposite the wall of the lock, just downstream of the weir.  The flow was good and favoured our bank and the depth appeared to be around 6/7 feet with a clear gravel bottom.

The set-up was probably typical Trent stuff; 2 x 1.75lb Torrix barbel rods, 12lb mainline, 3-4ft Suffix Camfusion coated braid hooklinks and size 12 hooks.  I fished double 8mm caviar pellets on both rods.  I also used 3oz cage feeders packed with Ocean Pride groundbait with added 6mm and 8mm caviar pellets mixed in.  I also put in a glug of liquid anchovy extract for good measure.  As always I cast every few minutes to start with, gradually extending the period in between casting.  The Trent is a big, powerful river and in my opinion you need to get a good carpet of bait out to pull the barbel in.  I keep casting every few minutes for at least an hour to an hour and a half, before extending the casts to maybe every 15 minutes.  This seems to work well and gets the barbel grubbing around in the swim.

The Mix

The Mix

We arrived at Gunthorpe at around midday.  From 3pm onwards a procession of anglers arrived on the opposite bank, all armed with carp porters and an abundance of tackle.  By 6pm I would think 15 anglers had set-up with bivvies and rod pods.  By nightfall it was like Blackpool illuminations on the opposite bank with bite alarms screeching out occasionally followed by cries of “barbel! That’s a barbel!”  and the frantic sprint from the bivvy 30 yards away to the rods.  Sometimes it took people so long to get to the rods, the fish had gone by the time they picked the rod up!  Yes it’s barbel fishing but not as we know it.  Down here in the south, fishing the much smaller and more intimate rivers, it’s not a style of fishing I’m used to.  However on the Trent it’s the way things are done and I’m honestly not knocking it, just having a bit of a jest.  I’m just not used to that style of approach.  Each to their own of course.

Throughout the afternoon and early evening I was getting lots of taps and pulls, some that were obviously hooked fish.  I ended up with around 6-8 nice roach and a similar amount of small skimmer bream.  As the evening wore on it looked less and less likely a barbel would put in an appearance, despite one of the regulars assuring us that after dark the fishing comes alive.  Of course that’s always the kiss of death and I’m sure it can be incredible fishing on its day.  Sadly today wasn’t that day.  I did manage one barbel of around 6-7lbs and Geoff tempted 2.  By 11.30 all was quiet.  I was knackered and so we opted to call it a day.  I’m sure we’ll be back for another go though before winter sets in.

 

 

Wading for barbel


A return to the Wye is always something to look forward to.   Generally the fishing is good and certainly the views are worth the trip, even if the fishing is a bit lackluster.  There are always good opportunities to spot plenty of wildlife, particularly bird-life, so pack your copy of the RSPB Handbook of British Birds and you’ll be crossing off all sorts of species from the list.  We often spot plenty of deer too and there are always a few rabbits or hares to add to the mix.  The strange thing is I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fox in the Wye Valley but there must be a few I’m guessing.

A Buzzard

A Buzzard

This particular trip was made with Danny and Pete.  We were heading to Hereford for a couple of days, hoping to find the river in good sorts.  It’s been very dry over recent weeks and the river was actually quite low and clear.  At least that gives me an opportunity to get into the water and explore some swims. The breathable chest waders means I don’t sweat my whatsits off in these hot, dry summer days.  You can buy some reasonable breathable chest waders now pretty cheaply and they are definitely worth the money.  Avoid the neoprene waders in the summer at all cost.  They are hard work and you’ll be soaked through with sweat.

Dan's Anti Cow Cover

Dan’s Anti Cow Cover

The two guys found their chosen spots and I headed off to a lower section where I could get the waders on and get out into the river.  I waded out with some 6mm and 8mm caviar pellets.  The idea was to put some loose feed out and watch and see what happens.  I managed to reach a large slab of bedrock about mid river.  The water was gin clear, there was barely a ripple on the water and the sun was out making fish spotting very easy.  Obviously a pair of polarized sunglasses are essential to cut out the surface glare of the water and see clearly through to the the riverbed.

Once out in the river I spotted a deeper cut in the bedrock in front of me.  I noticed some chub up on the shallow bedrock just downstream.  I fed out a couple of small handfuls of mixed caviar pellets and soon the chub were darting about chasing the loosefeed.   I kept tricking in the pellets and soon a couple of barbel appeared, heads down, tails up feeding on the bait.  After 15 minutes there was a healthy mixture of barbel and chub in front of me, probably no more than 8-10 feet away.  Visibility was perfect and I could see unhindered the fish reacting to the introduced pellets.

I waded back to shore and grabbed a rod with a light feeder and a couple of 8mm pellets glued onto the hair.  I swung the feeder out onto the adjacent lump of bedrock and threw out some more pellets.  The barbel were soon hoovering up the bait and I could see my feeder in among the feeding fish.  Suddenly the rod top wrapped round in a frenzied take from a barbel.  As I guided the fish to the waiting net, I could see the orange fins and the powerful tail kick, as the barbel surged off into the fast flowing river.  After a few minutes I managed to net the fish and slipped the barbless hook out very quickly returning the fish to the flow.  It powered off and disappeared among the bedrock.

A Wye barbel fights hard

A Wye barbel fights hard

This was quite exciting fishing.  There were plenty of chub darting around too, often taking the freebies as they hit the water surface.  A couple of big chub followed that first barbel but then things went quiet.  Around 5 or 6 yards away I could see the barbel flashing.  I cast out a bit further and kept getting sharp knocks on the rod top but nothing really hittable.  I swapped the feeder for a lead but that made no difference, the sharp bites kept coming.   I tried a couple of the triple ssg shots and bounced a bait down among the rocks and that produced a couple more chub but the barbel were being very cautious.

I decided to have a break and wondered up to see how Dan and Pete were getting on.  It seemed things were pretty slow with them too.  After a cuppa and a bite to eat, I left them to it again.  I decided to wade out on top of the bedrock to around 3/4 of the way across.  I now discovered a deep depression in the bedrock, which looked about 3 feet deep.  I could see a number of chub and barbel stationed here and they seemed completely at ease with my presence.  Again I fed some pellets and they were soon hoovering up the free offerings.

I waded back, grabbed the rod and was soon in position again this time armed and dangerous!  I swung out a feeder into this new spot and the rod top whacked over very quickly.  I managed to tempt 3 barbel from here and a couple more nice chub.  Then the barbel moved out.  I tried a few other spots but lost 2 barbel to hook-pulls and then the fishing completely died. The barbel seemed to be a bit wary or maybe they were just not feeding hard.  I wouldn’t say they really spooked from the swim, even with a hook bait in place, so perhaps they just weren’t on it today.  Nevertheless it had been a very interesting and educational day, watching the fish up close and how little they seemed afraid of my presence in the water.

A typical Wye barbel

Hopefully I’ll be returning to the Wye soon but a more pressing engagement awaits; the mighty river Trent.


Day 4 of our Wye odyssey saw us back on a Wye and Usk beat and one that has produced big numbers of fish for us in the past.  I headed to the cribs with fellow Lone Angler team mate Marcus Joy.  Marcus was due to go home around lunchtime and I foolishly told him he’d have a few before he left, such was my confidence in the swim we were going to fish.  Sadly no one told the fish!  The swim is a beautiful gravel bend, which slowly shallows towards the far bank, with a deep run off of the crib.  It looks perfect and screams barbel.

The Wye

The Wye

I stuck to my usual tactics I had used for the week; a long coated braid hook link, 2 x 8mm pellets and a small hook.  The feeder was packed with groundbait and lots of pellets and out it went.  Marcus fished downstream and I fished upstream.  We both kept trying different lines until we managed to connect with a barbel.  By the time Marcus left around 2.30pm he’d had 2 and I had managed to bank 4 plus a couple of nice chub.  Geoff then joined my on the crib for the remainder of the day.

A 4lb+ Wye Chub

A 4lb+ Wye Chub

The fishing improved, particularly once i changed my hook to a size 14 barbless and used 2 x 6mm caviar pellets.  I was now getting much more action.  Geoff fished upstream and I fished downstream.   Later on in the day Geoff noticed that every time his feeder dislodged and moved it elicited a bite.  So I started to touch leger again and lift the rod tip occasionally to move the feeder.  At one point I can honestly say as I lifted the rod, I felt the bait pop out of a barbels mouth, only for it to pounce on the bait once it moved.  It certainly made for some exciting fishing. By the end of the day I had managed 14 barbel to just under 8lbs and quite a few chub to 4lb 4oz.  Geoff finished on 12 for the day, although 4 of those were from further upstream.

A decent Wye Barbel

A decent Wye Barbel

I now felt that the 6mm pellets would out fish larger baits, so on the last day that would be my tactics.  We headed back to Hereford for our final session. Today was one of those red letter days you so often read about and think “why not me?”.  It was a bonanza catch of barbel and chub and right from the word go.  Geoff and I started out sharing a swim.  I fished upstream and Geoff down.  My first cast produced almost instant results with a nice chub and then a baby barbel.  I love seeing these small barbel; they reaffirm how healthy the Wye is for fish stocks.  Soon I’d had 6 barbel including a stunning 9lb 2oz fish and chub to 4lb 11oz.  At this point Geoff and I swapped places.  He was now fishing upstream and me down.  It made no difference to my catch rate and soon I was up to 13 barbel, whilst Geoff had taken 2.  I think the small hookbaits were really paying off but I also believe the fish had become preoccupied on the caviar pellets.

9lb 2oz

9lb 2oz

Geoff even cast back downstream in an effort to prove the point.  No bites were forthcoming and yet my first cast back into position produced an instant bite.  The power of the caviar strikes again.  Geoff opted to move and ended the day on a creditable eight barbel but included a stunning fish of 10lb 3oz.  It was one of the nicest barbel I’ve seen and Geoff was over the moon.  Meanwhile my action continued unabated.  Every cast was met with whacks on the rod top.  By now the swim was simply crawling with fish.  Sadly as the day wore on and the fish just kept coming I ran out of groundbait and swapped to a straight lead.  This certainly slowed up the results.  However by the end of the day I’d managed to land a total of 31 barbel and probably 25-30 chub!  I would say half of the barbel were 7lb plus and I had half a dozen chub over 4lbs.  Unfortunately my biggest chub, which looked well over 5lbs, flipped back into the water whilst I was getting ready to weigh it!  Still never mind.  It was a day to remember and only the second time I’ve managed more than 30 barbel in a day.  The fish were stunning as was the setting.  It’s what makes the Wye the theatre of dreams.


The start of a new river season usually involves a long awaited trip to the river Wye.  Geoff, Kevin, Dan and I are normally raring to go by late June.  This year was going to be a bit different.  Jez Brown from Team Lone Angler had booked a week in a cottage near Hereford for the Lone Angler coarse fishing team and I was looking forward to getting together with the other team members.

Jez Brown ~ Team Lone Angler

Jez Brown ~ Team Lone Angler

Due to the size of the cottage, Jez offered places to Geoff, Kevin and Dan and they duly accepted.  We were looking forward to some comfortable accommodation and hopefully some spectacular fishing on this great river.  Sadly Kevin was unable to attend.  His health has deteriorated recently to the point where he is unable to spend days out on the bank with us.  The fishing isn’t the same without him and we all wish him a speedy recovery and hope the day will come when he can join us again.

The Old Barn

The Old Barn

Jez had booked a number of Wye and Usk stretches and we also had a syndicate stretch near Hereford to fish.  I was fishing with the LA lads Monday and Tuesday.  For the remainder of the week I was due to fish with Geoff and Danny.  As it turned out we had the whole of Wye Lea booked on the Tuesday, so they joined us there too.

My first day started at the Creel, a Wye and Usk stretch.  I hadn’t seen it before today.  I arrived after visiting Morrison’s for a hearty breakfast and stocking up on a few provisions for the week.  My tactics this week was to fish caviar pellets and to compliment that I was using the LA Ocean Pride groundbait packed with 6mm and 8mm caviars.  The Wye level had been up the previous week but it had dropped quite a bit but still retained a touch of colour.  Cage feeder were the order of the day and in the 3-4oz range would be perfect.  I topped up at Woody’s in Hereford.  His feeder are simply excellent and great value for money.  They are also virtually indestructible too.   Hook bait would be 2 x 12mm pellets but if things were slow I had 8mm or even 6mm to try.

The Creel

The Creel

The fishing at the Creel was a little slow.  I found a few nice spots.  One was spoiled when 2 canoes moored opposite the island I was fishing to.  6 people got out and started a brew up and picnic right where I was almost casting too.  I decided it was best to move, which was a shame as I had taken several nice chub and a couple of barbel.  After a couple of moves I managed to sneak another barbel and a few more chub.  I think the final tally was 9 chub and 3 barbel.  I packed up and met Geoff and Dan at the KFC just outside Ross before attempting to find the cottage.  Despite a road closure, we managed to find the cottage without too much bother.  It was a magnificent barn conversion with 5 large bedrooms and a superb kitchen.  It was a bit too luxurious for us lot but made a great base for the week.

Wye Barbel

Wye Barbel

Day two saw us at Wye Lea.  By now there was Mark Dutton, Jez and Rob Swindells, with Marcus Joy and Ray Pullford joining us later in the week.  I opted to fish up by the old railway viaduct, fishing the fast water just downstream.  A few chub put in an early appearance and 1 barbel.  Mike the bailiff advised me to move right next to the bridge and after taking a look that’s exactly what I did.  The barbel were somewhat elusive but again the chub seemed active.  The day ended with  20 chub and 3 barbel.  Geoff was top rod with 9 fish and the other all caught plenty of fish too.

Wye Lea

Wye Lea

That night Mike O’Neill treated us to a fabulous meal at the Cottage of Content.  A slap up meal of sirloin steak and a few pints made for a wonderful evening in great company.  The landlady was, well, entertaining, I think!  It was certainly memorable.  I must say it’s the best steak I’ve had for a long time and I haven’t laughed that hard for while too.

Day 3 saw us at a private stretch near Hereford.  The river looked spot on, with a great flow and a touch of colour still.  Geoff and Dan headed off to do their own thing downstream and I opted to start off at the top.  The cows were in this field and there was a rather large and somewhat amorous bull present (and no I don’t mean me!).  Cows can ruin your car’s paintwork (just ask Ray) if they lick it and they do, all over if left to it.  So I had to keep one eye on the rod and one on the cows.  After taking a lovely. mint conditioned chub from a deep run under a tree I noticed the cows were gathering.  I opted to beat a hasty retreat and headed off to the lower section.

A Wye barbel fights hard

A Wye barbel fights hard

I found a nice swim in among some trees and within seconds hooked a barbel.  Sadly it snagged me and the fish was lost.  I then moved onto the beach.  I decided to put on the chest waders and get into the water.  It’s so much more rewarding to catch whilst in the water and seems more relaxing somehow.  It was a perfect day weather wise; overcast and humid.  My intention was to cast across to a deep run on the far bank, where there is an abundance of tree cover.  The barbel can be stacked up in here and the fishing can be explosive.  I had opted to use 2 x 8mm caviars and a feeder packed with groundbait and pellets.  I attached a strap to the groundbait bucket which meant I could fish effectively whilst wading.  The fish could be unhooked in the water and released very quickly.  If I latched into anything large I could simply wade back to shore and use the net.

The first hour was a bit slow, just a couple of barbel and a few decent chub.  I felt it should have been much better.  I waded out a little further and decided to fish across a large sunken boulder and into an area just above the shallows.  It would have been difficult casting from the bank to hear and even more difficult to extract the fish, due to the nature of the swim.  Obviously I had to touch leger, which I love and soon the rod tip was pinging.  I love it when that starts, as that’s a sure indication that fish are present.  Soon the rod tip whacked round and a barbel was on.  They are so strong here on the Wye, very powerful fights.  A couple of times I thought the fish were heading off to Ross, as they headed for the shallows downstream.  I lost a few fish to hook pulls but managed to land 14 nice barbel to around 8lbs and some cracking chub.  Geoff and Danny both managed some nice fish too, I think around 4 or 5 apiece.

Fighting Barbel

Fighting Barbel

 

 


June the 16th finally arrived and coincided with heavy rains and thunderstorms.  Some rivers were 2-3 feet up on normal summer levels and generally heavily coloured.  The biggest worry is for the freshly laid spawn, so lets hope it doesn’t get washed away.  On the upside it does make for pretty good barbel conditions, as opposed to 30c and bright sunshine I guess.

Geoff and I headed to a new stretch of river for the opening day and one that will see us through the remainder of the season, when we are not on the Wye or Trent.  The levels were good, with the river carrying about an extra foot of coloured water.  There was a really good flow.  This particular stretch had loads of bankside cover, with lots of over hanging trees and bushes presenting plenty of cover for wary fish.  We went for a quick recce and was presented with a delightful small river, with varying flows and depths.

The whole stretch presented all sorts of opportunities to drop in and let a bait swing round in the current and under some form of feature or another.  The time spent plumbing the depths provided information on some deep holes and deep gravel runs, which hopefully would prove fruitful. Depths varied from a couple of feet to as much as 7 or even 8 feet in places, even right under the nearside bank.

The weather conditions today seemed perfect; overcast and warm.  The forecast was for the occasional shower but we were keeping our fingers crossed for a dry day.  We had to be off the water at sunset, which was around 9.15pm.  I opted for a mouthwatering swim about 1/2 mile downstream.  There was a tree down across the water to my right (upstream) and a huge leaf covered branch hanging across the river to my left.  The nearside bank also had plenty of cover.  A crease ran approximately halfway across the river and was created by the tree upstream of me.  It looked perfect.  At my feet the depth was 7ft and appeared to be mainly clean gravel.  It had to produce a barbel!

I fed some 6mm and 8mm caviar pellets into the swim whilst I set-up.  As this was a small river my Trefor West 1lb 12oz LA Barbel rod would be ideal.  It has a sensitive tip and a soft action, well until a big fish is on and then it has masses of reserve power.  They really are lovely rods to use for this kind of fishing.  I matched this with a good quality Shimano reel, 10lb mainline and a coated braid hooklink.  Bait was double caviar pellet to start.  I had a number of options with me to fall back on if the pellets failed to produce, although they rarely do.

The weaponry

The weaponry

With a steady trickle of small pellets going in I chose to fish close to the bankside cover in the deep water.  The flow here was reduced somewhat by the fallen tree upstream, so a small lead was sufficient.  It didn’t take too long to get some interest, a few chubby knocks on the rod top indicated life.  Soon the rod top was bouncing around and after quite a surprisingly spirited fight a nice chub was eventually landed.  It was great to see such a lovely fish again after the 3 month break.  Chub are perhaps my favorite fish and at 4lb 9oz it was a good start to the new campaign.

4lb 9oz chub

4lb 9oz chub

The sun came out every now and again and almost roasted me.  I was secretly hoping it would cloud over a bit more to keep from being BBQ’d!  Sadly I got my wish later on.  As the afternoon wore on into early evening the rod tip whacked round and at last I thought this had to be a barbel.  The fish powered off to the middle of the river and then headed towards some sunken tree roots to my left.  As good as this fish felt, my heart was telling me it wasn’t a barbel.  I was right but it was a stunning mirror carp that tipped the scales at 11lb 7oz.  I was more than happy with a fish of that size and Geoff obliged with the camera.

A little later on the rod tip slammed round again and this fish surged off as strongly as the last.  Again it didn’t take long to realise this was probably another carp.  It was, a fish of around 12lbs with a lovely hue of orange to it’s flanks.  Geoff by now had moved down stream of me and had failed to entice a bite.  I had decided to stay put as this swim just looked so perfect.  I would normally move quite regularly but it seemed a good spot and perhaps I was feeling a bit lazy after a busy week at work.

12lb carp

12lb carp

By now it was around 8pm and the clouds had started to build up, they were dark and foreboding.  A few heavy rumbles of thunder resonated in the valley and a sudden flash of lightning illuminated the dark clouds.  This was the witching hour and we were reluctant to pack up early, possibly missing our best opportunity for a barbel.  The storm seemed to be moving away but as often happens in a valley, it was soon heading back as it swirled around overhead.  A massive clap of thunder almost sent me into the river in surprise and a bolt of lightning headed earthbound.  Still we stubbornly refused to go.  However Geoff now reported rain downstream.  I was still dry but felt it was best to call it a day.  Just 10 minutes later the biggest clap of thunder I’ve heard in a while detonated directly overhead and the skies opened.

The rain was torrential.  It hammered down, with great blobs of rain splashing mud in all directions.  Luckily I had already just about packed up.  I threw on the rucksack, grabbed the rest of the gear and beat a hasty retreat to the protection of the dense tree cover.  Despite the cover, I was soon soaked through and stood there sopping wet waiting for Geoff.  He had quite a walk ahead of him but soon appeared.  A bedraggled figure, dripping wet and looking thoroughly miserable.  We were soon back at the car and heading home.

It was an interesting start to the season.  The stretch certainly looks good and probably will present some great opportunities for a mixed variety of fish.  Hopefully next time a barbel or two will put in an appearance.

 

 

 

 


The new river season is just around the corner.  I can’t believe how quickly the last few months have gone and here we are into June.  Thank goodness the weather has at last warmed up and it was certainly noticeable as we headed to Godalming Angling Society’s Marsh Farm.  The car was showing 26c!  It was overcast and rather humid.  All in all, pretty good conditions.

After the traditional brekkie at the local golf club and a stop at Apollo tackle on site, we were soon full of eggs and bacon and armed with a few maggots for the fishing.  After a quick recce I decided to remain in the corner, in peg 1.  It was out of the wind and looked very fishy.

After a quick depth check, I baited up with some groundbait, mini pellets and a liberal dose of Ocean Pride spray.  The maggots got the same treatment plus a sprinkle of chili powder for good measure.  Reserve baits included garlic luncheon meat, an assortment of soft hooker pellets and some corn.  As it turned out maggots yet again proved to be the winning bait.

The fish were soon fizzing in the swim, mopping up the loose fed maggots and groundbait.  It didn’t take long to get some action and a small crucian succumbed to the tactics. Today I was using a 1 1/2 bb waggler, 3.8lb line and a 13ft float rod.  A small 16 hook would be sufficient.  In this particular peg there weren’t any real snags, so I could fish comparatively light.

The fish continued to fiz right through the evening until about 9pm.  Then things slowed down.  By about 9.30 I had managed to tempt 7 crucians but then things went quiet.  This seems to be a familiar theme of late.  I start really well but can’t seem to catch as the light fades for some reason.  Geoff seems to do the opposite, which is all rather inexplicable.

By the end of the evening I’d managed 9 crucians including fish of 1lb 14oz, 2lb, 2lb 3oz and 2lb 5oz.  Pretty good going really.  Geoff ended up with 8 fish but his first was the best at just a smidgen under 2lb 11oz.  I also managed to land a small tench but lost a decent fish to a hook pull after it had towed me all over the lake.  I also lost a couple of crucians, which is fairly normal.

Geoff's Crucian

Geoff’s Crucian

We left about 12.30am feeling pretty chuffed with the results.  We certainly won’t be back before the new season starts.  We hope to be on the river next Thursday 16th for the first day challenge and we are hoping for a barbel or two!

Good luck to all you river anglers out there and may your rod bend and your tight lines sing in the wind!

 

Bars of Gold


There’s a lot of thrashing around in the reeds at the moment as tench and crucians get a little jiggy with it!  Yes it’s spawning time folks and the fish tend to be a little preoccupied when it comes to spawnification. 🙂

In bloom and full of spawning fish

In bloom and full of spawning fish

Nevertheless some fish have finished, whilst others are still rampant.  A sudden drop in temperatures probably wouldn’t cool their ardor either. With the thermometer dropping from about 18c or 19c to just a miserly 12c it was a bit of a shock to the system, particularly as by 11.30pm it had plummeted to about 5c or 6c.  Fortunately the SAS training kicked in and Geoff and I brushed off the inclement conditions to try for a few more crucians.

It was a good start with a small crucian coming to the net within a few minutes.  Sadly it then went quiet for a while.  However a few more followed as the evening wore on.  I was having a bit of trouble landing some of the fish.  Both the tench and crucians seem particularly aggressive fighters at the moment, tearing off at break neck speed for the reeds.  I must have pulled out of possibly 8-10 fish, mainly tench but certainly 1 crucian.

Luckily a few were subdued and I ended up with 4 crucians including a nice brace of ‘2’s at 2lb 6oz and 2lb 3oz, plus a couple of feisty tench.  As with my last visit I opted to stick to white maggots but also tried reds, firing out an almost constant trickle of bait.  The maggots were flavoured with Ocean Pride and this time I also used a small amount of OP groudbait and some crushed pellets.

As usual I was plagued with infuriating, unhittable bites.  The float would rise, dip, sway and bob.  No matter at what stage you tried to hit a bite, it failed miserably.  Without a doubt, in my opinion, some of these if not most, are line bites.  Fish moving through the swim and perhaps feeding, just pull the float around.  Sometimes a perfect sail away bite fails to connect with anything.  Its quite mind boggling really but all adds to the experience and there’s never a dull moment.

2lb 6oz Bar of Gold

2lb 6oz Bar of Gold

Geoff bagged the fish of the day; a nice crucian at a smidgen under 2lb 11oz.  Well done that man.  We are hoping that once spawning has fully finished the fishing will be electric and we’ll be there to see it.  Fingers crossed.

Just about the only virgin you're likely to see around here!

Just about the only virgin you’re likely to see around here!


It has been a long time since I wet a line at Marsh Farm.  However now things have warmed up and spring seems to have sprung, Geoff and I felt it was time to pay it a visit again.  The set-up and MF is excellent.  They have a superb shop on site with very friendly, helpful staff, excellent toilets and secure parking.  Access to the lakes is via gravel paths and although car access is limited to disabled drivers, walking isn’t hampered by overgrown, pot-hole infested roads, like some fisheries can be.

The lakes are just coming into full bloom, with the trees, bushes, bankside vegetation, reeds and lily-pads bursting into life.  The wildlife is a buzz of activity with all manner of waterfowl and other bird life to be seen.  There has been many a time when I have witnessed dramatic events unfold, as crows, magpies or even herons spot small, defenseless ducklings or eggs and steal them away from under the nose of a distracted mother.  The harsh realities of nature are all too apparent when you spend a great deal of time in the countryside.  Luckily it is balanced and you see some wonderful sights from all manner of animals and insect life to help redress the balance.  Spring and summer are delightful times to be in the great outdoors, soaking up the sights and sounds of the Great British countryside.

The Great British Countryside

The Great British Countryside

Despite almost torrential rain throughout the previous night and pretty much all morning, the lake looked remarkably clear when we arrived.  In fact it looked pretty damn good.  As always breakfast at Broadwater Park Golf Club was excellent and set us up for the rest of the afternoon and evening.  Steve and the guys in Apollo Angling on site at Marsh Farm were dishing out plenty of abuse but some great advice too.  So armed with a tub of white maggots and a few odds and sods, we were soon trudging along the path fully laden like some sort of Himalayan yak!

I opted for a swim sandwiched between some reeds.  To my left a large bed of reeds sprawled out into the lake and I could see the stems vibrating and the tops dancing around, as fish moved through them.  To my right there was a much smaller reed bed that remained fairly tight to the bank.  Well there were certainly fish here, that much was obvious.  As I stood watching, a nice tench swam past in the clear water, totally oblivious to my presence.

I trickle fed maggots into the swim after a liberal dose of Ocean Pride flavouring.  I do like to flavour maggots, it just gives them an edge.  I tackled up with my 14ft float rod, 4lb mainline on the fixed spool and a small insert waggler.  The float needs to be sensitive for crucians as they can be the finickiest of bitters.  I like a tiny bit of the float tip visible and try and hit the slightest dip.  Some days it works and some days it don’t!  They can drive you mad.  Patience is the key and expect the unexpected.  I use a couple of gripper stops to hold the float in place (with a float adapter attached) and I use a small swivel to join the mainline and hooklink.  By doing this I can mold some extra heavy tungsten putty to the set-up, without the need of using any split shot.  The reasons for this are two fold; firstly you can set the float to exactly how you want it with ease and secondly there are no split shot that can pinch the line or get caught up in the reeds or lily pads.

Today I was using a size 16 hook to accommodate two white maggots.  After spending some time plumbing the swim, I had the bait just resting on the bottom.  I fed two swims; one to the left and one to the right.  That way if one spots dries up, hopefully the other will produce a few bites.  By now it was about 4pm.  The float was flicked out and a few maggots tricked in over the top on a regular basis.  The float was gone almost instantly and a nice dark green tench was quickly landed.  It was in beautiful condition and was soon swimming back to its mates.  A few minutes later and a lovely dark bronze flank of a crucian shone in the late afternoon sunshine.  This was a much darker hue of bronze than I seem to remember from the crucians here and it looked a minter.  Not a big one; probably 1lb 8oz-1lb 12oz but beautiful to look at.  Each cast met with almost instant bites.  Sadly I missed dozens, which is not uncommon and sadly I seemed to lose almost as many as I landed.  It was quite a tricky swim and even the crucians were fighting hard, with all the fish heading straight for the sprawling reeds to my left. Luckily the combination of the right rod and reel line subdued most of the fish and I only got broken on one occasion, when a fish shed the hook and left it in the reeds.

From 4pm until 8pm I managed to land 4 crucians and 6 tench, however from 8pm until 11.30, which historically has been the most productive time, only 1 more crucian and a couple more tench put in an appearance.  Normally as the light fades crucians start to roll and become very active.  Not so tonight, at least in my swim.  Still it was a lovely mild night of around 16c and I really enjoyed my session.  Geoff had started off very slowly, I think I’d had 5 or 6 before he tempted his first fish but he ended up with about 8 tench and a crucian, after his swim eventually woke up at dusk.

Most of my fish were in A1 condition and their colours were certainly the best I think I’ve seen here at Marsh Farm.  I didn’t manage to land anything of any great size but enjoyed the ones I did land.  I’m sure we’ll be back very soon for another go at those magnificent crucians.

 


It’s been quite a while since I last wet a line.  The end of the traditional river season was a bit of a damp squib, although I did manage a number of good sessions on the Itchen.  Since then I haven’t been that inspired by the weather conditions to venture out.  However after a 6 week hiatus I was keen to have a dabble at something, before I completely forgot how to fish!

Geoff and I decided to give it a go, even though the forecast was yet again nothing special and a cold wind was predicted.  We didn’t get to Bury Hill Fisheries until around lunchtime and after a chat with Dave Roberts in the shop, we headed over to Milton Lake.  It looked fairly busy at the fishery today, with anglers well spread out across the main lake, Bonds and Milton.  It was nice to see the trees and bushes showing signs of spring.  We can’t be too far away from a noticeable improvement in the temperatures.

We headed to the far bank and set up in a couple of adjacent swims.  After a bit of plumbing we assessed the swim depth and mixed up some groudbait.  Mine consisted of Ocean Pride groundbait mix, a dollop of glug and some micro pellets.  It was a simple as that.  Tackle was a 14ft float rod, 3lb mainline and a size 16 hook to nylon.  I used a small waggler but big enough to cope with the by now, windy conditions.  As I started to fish the wind seemed to pick up even more and I soon found myself fishing into a strong wind which was affecting the float.  Despite fishing over-depth the float was being blown into the nearside bank.  As I was targeting the crucians, I didn’t really want to sacrifice the delicate presentation by having to compensate too much for the wind.

I decided to go for a wander and soon found a nice swim tucked in next to a huge reed bed containing reeds around 6 feet tall.  This area was also out of the wind, being protected by the island opposite me.  It looked perfect.  Plumbing soon revealed the swim was around 3 feet deep, even close into the reed bed.  I started out just off the reeds and put in a couple of small balls of groundbait and a few loose maggots.  I tricked the maggots in over the next 45 minutes but couldn’t muster a bite.  I then shallowed up and tried the waggler at half depth, firing just a few maggots out constantly over the float.  I thought this might entice a few roach to take but even that failed.  By now it was gone 3pm and I hadn’t had so much as a twitch.

I decided to try tight up to the reeds, just to see if maybe they were feeding in among the stems.  It seemed they were; and at last the float slid away in a confident bite. A good thumping fight ensued and it wasn’t long before a beautiful bronze flank gleamed in the spring sunshine, as a crucian broke the surface.  At last!  I soon poked the float in right next to the reeds again and put out 2 small balls of groundbait. Again an instant result.  The float kept sliding away for the remainder of the day.  Sometimes it went quiet for a while but the fish soon returned.  I was catching crucians regularly between around 1lb to probably just shy of 2lbs.  They all looked glorious with that lovely buttery gold colouration and orange fins.  They were not all genuine crucians; a few F1’s or brown goldfish were mixed in.  The true crucians are normally easy to spot; if they are a lovely golden colour then they are likely to be genuine.  If they look brown, silver or grey then they are generally something else.

A few good tench also put in an appearance.  I ended up with 5 or 6 with a couple of good fish around the 4lb mark.  They put up a spirited fight on the light tackle and added a bit of variety to the proceedings.  By the end of the day I’d caught 24 crucians and the tench.  Geoff had started off well, taking a couple of early fish but then faded as the wind increased.  Eventually he moved in next to me and managed to winkle out a few more crucians.  I think he ended on 15 crucians a couple of tench and a nice 1lb 5oz roach.

On those occasions where the sun came out and the wind abated, it was surprisingly warm.  It does lift the spirits when you feel the warmth of the sun on your face again.  I have to say I’m really looking forward to some warmer weather now.  Obviously when it gets above about 25/26c I’ll be moaning its too hot of course!!

 


With the close season almost at the half way point it’s worth looking at a few ideas to help with some spring fishing and to prepare for the new season ahead.

Spring Fishing:

Spice up your ground baits with some extra zing.  Add some flavouring to give that extra boost.

Liquid Flavouring

Liquid Flavouring

Soak hook baits to give them that extra edge too; whether its luncheon meat, pellets or even maggots, an extra glug of flavour can make all of the difference.

Hook Bait Glug

Hook Bait Glug

Make sure your line is in good condition and replace it if you’re unsure of its age.  Don’t loose a big fish because of complacency or laziness.

If you haven’t used your float or tench rods since last spring, clean them and check for damage prior to use.

Ensure your hooks are sharp and that hooks to nylon have been checked for poor tying or signs of damage.  You may prefer to tie your own hooklinks like I do, so that you have total control over their quality and reliability, particularly if you’re targeting big tench, bream or crucians.

Hooks

Hooks

Most of all enjoy your time on the bank.  It’s about escapism and pleasure.

 

The Season ahead:

If allowed, get down to your chosen stretch of river for a recce.  If your selected river flows clear, then in good conditions try and spot the barbel and chub.

Find out where they spawn and you’ll see exactly what numbers and sizes of fish are in your stretch.

Watch the behavior of fish.  Look for feeding patterns and patrol routes.  Look for where the fish tend to frequent on a regular basis and identify why they like these areas so much.

Even in rivers that do not flow clear, you can still look for potential holding or feeding areas.  Early season cast a lead around to try and locate features and depths.  Look for deep holes or gullies, gravel beds and runs or anything out of the ordinary like hidden boulders or snags.  A day spent doing this can make all of the difference to your catch results.

Look beyond the well trodden paths and try and locate remote areas that have the potential to produce fish.  Once off the beaten track, you’ll often have the place to yourself and the fish will be far less spooky.

Pre-baiting can help introduce a new bait or get the fish used to finding a readily available food source in particular areas, potentially giving you an edge come the new season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: